The Best Wineries in Stanthorpe: Chasing the Strange Bird

The Best Wineries in Stanthorpe: Chasing the Strange Bird

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Strange Bird in Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt

Queensland is rarely recognized amongst Australia’s best wine-producing states. However, the winemakers of the Granite Belt, are working tirelessly to change that. And now they are starting to develop a reputation for their Strange Bird varieties. We took the opportunity to visit and discover the best wineries in Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt.

Strange Bird is a designation used by winemakers in the Granite Belt region to describe alternative wines. Wines produced from grape varieties that represent 1% or less of the total bearing vines in Australia. In a country dominated by Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc, Cab Sav, and Chardonnay, one would be forgiven for thinking Australia just doesn’t grow much else. But Queensland’s premier wine region is challenging that notion.

Two hundred kilometers southwest of Brisbane, The Granite Belt is a scenic tableland on the Great Dividing Range. The region straddles the state border between Queensland and New South Wales border. The Granite Belt takes its name from the prevalent granite boulders that dot the landscape. At the center of the region, the country town of Stanthorpe has become synonymous with the wider area. Queensland’s coldest region is renowned for its climate, orchards, natural beauty, and, amongst those in the know, its wine.

Severe drought, bush fires, and most recently pandemic have had devastating impacts on the wineries here. However, the embattled winemakers here have proved their resilience, throwing open the doors to their cellars once more.

Here you will find tiny to small wineries. Owned and operated by passionate craftspeople eager to share their wares, passion, and knowledge with visitors. With many wines here only available at the cellar door, it is a unique experience. Although we didn’t get to try them all, these were our pick for the best wineries in Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt.

The Best Wineries in Stanthorpe

Symphony Hill Wines

Symphony Hill Winery, one of the best in Stanthorpe

Symphony Hill Wines was, for us, one of the best wineries in Stanthorpe. With numerous awards and popular wines available through bottle shops, airlines, and Australian restaurants, we weren’t sure if the experience would be as personal as some of the smaller wineries nearby. We were pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed a tasting of over ten (to be honest we lost count) of the winery’s unique varieties. Each described in detail by the passionate and charismatic winemaker Abraham de Klerk.

Symphony Hill is leaning into the Strange Bird ethos sourcing grapes from the Granite Belt region and as far afield as South Australia to create a dynamic and wide-ranging wine list with varieties such as Fiano, Nero d’Avola and Tannat on show amongst their impressive range which includes at least seventeen Strange Bird varieties.

We left Symphony Hill with a few more bottles than we intended to buy and a new appreciation for the wine making process. We highly recommending dropping in at Symphony Hill next time you are in Stanthorpe.

Expect: A wide range of unique wines and styles all executed well.

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Boireann Winery

Boireann Winery, and in our opinion the best winery in Stanthorpe, specializes in red varieties, particularly the Strange Birds. Four of their seven wines fall in the Strange Bird category, the Barbera, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Tannat. Each impressive examples of Australia’s potential to produce red varietals that have been shunned in the past.

The winemaker is a new player in the local scene who has taken the reins from the previous owner. But not before learning a thing or two from his predecessor.

Recognized as a five-star winery and included in James Halliday’s top 100 wineries, Boireann has a reputation for producing red wines equal to Australia’s best. We have to agree, Boireann produced some of the best reds we tried on our trip through Stanthorpe.

Expect: Deep complex reds with tannins on show.

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Overlooking the vines at a Stanthorpe winery!

Ravens Croft

Ravens Croft is a pretty vineyard and winery located on the western side of Stanthorpe. Mark, the owner, originally from South Africa, brings with him a wealth of winemaking experience to the Granite Belt and a passion for Strange Bird wines.

Amongst his offering, Verdelho, Pinotage, Tempranillo, and a Petit Verdot, all Strange Bird varieties. He also produces a deliciously dry apple cider and an apple cider flavored with blood orange.

Expect: Fresh fruit driven flavors.

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Pyramids Road Wine

Another boutique winery, Pyramids Road Wine is a winery with a passion for novel wine varieties and for experimental wine making methods. Pyramids Road is comprised of husband and wife team Warren and Sue who have been producing wine here for twenty years. They are still welcoming people into their rustic cellar door where they share their passion and deep knowledge of wine making.

Amongst their range, Strange Birds Verdehlo, Petit Verdot and Mourvedre.

Expect: Complex wines and experimentation

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Twisted Gum Wines

The Cellar Door of the Twisted Gum Winery. One of the best wineries in Stanthorpe.
Twisted Gum Wines is easily one of the best Stanthorpe wineries to visit!

Twisted Gum Wines is a tiny, winery located just east of Ballandean. This winery is unique with a focus on sustainability. They produce dry-grown wines. This means they source all of their grapes from their own vineyard and do not irrigate (this is set to change in the near future, as the ongoing drought is making this unfeasible).

Due to their small size and the fact that everything is done by hand, they only offer a handful of wines. Two whites, one rose, three reds, and a cordial sweet Rosato.

Although only one of their wines is considered a Strange Bird, their unique approach to small scale sustainable agriculture makes this an alternative winery in our eyes.

No stuffy cellar doors or salespeople here. We sat on the front porch of their Queenslander cottage come cellar door, in the morning sun as the passionate winemaker Michelle walked us through their range and their sustainable approach to viniculture. Just great wines, friendly and knowledgeable owners, all set on amongst a gorgeous vinyard.

Expect: Deep inky purple Shiraz.

Pro-tip: Twisted Gum offers more than just wine tastings. These guys host unique degustation events throughout the year. Regionally sourced ingredients expertly prepared and paired with sensational wine served up amongst the vines under the stars. Spots are limited for each event and book up fast. Check out their website for more details on the next event!

They also have a cabin available that can sleep 6. Unfortunately, it was already booked when we visited, but after visiting the winery, we think it is definitely something you should check out. Click here for the most up to date prices!

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Other Stanthorpe Wineries to visit

Wine tasting is exhausting work and with only one weekend we didn’t get to see them all. Here are other wineries we can’t wait to check out on our next trip to see how they stack up against the best wineries in Stanthorpe.

Balancing Rock

New kid on the block Balancing Rock is the creation of a couple of Stanthorpe wine tasters and holidaymakers who decided to take the plunge to move here to live their dream in 2016. Since then they have been establishing a name and reputation for themselves. We are looking forward to visiting on our next trip and we’d love to hear from you if you’ve visited Balancing Rock to let us know what it’s like!

Savina Lane Wines

With a focus on premium and exclusive bottles of Strange Bird varietals, Savina Lane is on our list of wineries to visit soon. If you like Ravens Croft wines, chances are that you will enjoy this Stanthorpe winery too, as the winemaker is also responsible for making some of these wines.

Casley Mount Hutton Vineyards & Winery

We also visited Casley Mount Hutton Vineyards & Winery. While everyone’s preference for wines is different, we didn’t think it was one of the best wineries in Stanthorpe. This does not mean you shouldn’t go or you won’t like it. Everyone’s taste in wine is different, so if you have the time give it a chance and let us know if you agree or disagree!

Click here for a complete Strange Bird Wine Trail Map provided by the Granite Belt Tourism Board.

Looking for more on Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt? Check out these 7 great things to do in Stanthorpe.

Have you visited some of the best wineries in Stanthorpe? What did you think of our list of the Stanthorpe best wineries? Let us know below!

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